If you are in charge of filling a position and you get 100 applications with time to only interview 10, how are you going to whittle them down? By using "superficial" criteria because you don't have time for anything else. Criteria such as does the applicant have a degree or not.
I'm glad you asked that. I've been thinking about that. Yes, you'll have to use superficiality because you've been given a task in a much shorter timeframe than you should have. So what? Don't do the normal thing -- you'll get normal social whores. Get interesting. Don't give them the chance to 'make a good impression'. Look through the 10 Most Wanted list, eliminate anybody with a name that matches someone on it. First or last.
Being arbitrary may seem worse than being superficial, but I would guess the odds are better that you'll find useful employees this way. You might arbitrarily filter someone who's good, but who out of the social whores will guess that you're using their names, or the sum of all the numbers on the resume, to eliminate them? None. They know all the other tricks. There's no way for them to fix you dropping the resumes from a building, or wallpapering with them and using darts. It just can't be done.
If interviewing were always done by the people who would be coworkers and one manager, and the HR process were essentially random (and I can imagine automating the random process right now, and I suspect you could imagine it too), you'd end up with something fair, even if it's not ideal. Instead, you end up with useless people coming from HR to be interviewed by two or three people who are supposedly smart enough to make important decisions, but probably don't know how to (read people|do the job|make coffee), much less ask useful questions.
You are what you think.